Fall Hike

Beautiful fall (autumn) weather had me out with the Barefoot Hikers of Minnesota this afternoon.   It was such a shame that we did not see hundreds of people outside to enjoy the close-to-perfect weather.    We are not going to have many more days like this until a few months into next year!

As usual in Minnesota, we were not too far from the nearest lake.

Although the time for the best fall colors were past, we could still feast our eyes of the splendour around us.  The views of nature that invaded our senses made for a good reset of the mind.

We walked past a Lama farm …. (I wonder what the horse did there?)

We came across a few small snakes that were no doubt making the best of the last bit of heat of this time of year too.

Can’t see it ….?   Here:

And there were others too:

Here is the map my phone made for me of the 2.64mile hike:

Last of the warm weather?

I went for a very nice walk next to the Mississippi River tonight.  It was perfect weather and I just HAD to get out.  Our temperature is said to drop by 30 degrees Fahrenheit tomorrow.

Of course I did it barefoot – and I dread having to become a bit more shod for colder weather!  

The river was very low – typical for this time of year.

I had some fun with my little camera too!

I used MyTracks on my phone to see how far I walked – 

Total Time: 00:27:28 Moving Time: 00:23:36 Distance: 1.14 mi Average Speed: 2.89

The satelite link seemed to die just before I reached my car again.

Barefooting 103

Some reflections after almost a year living as shoe-less as possible.

It just gets better all the time!  It is almost as if I am getting more and more feeling and a sense of touch back in my feet.  It is an absolute joy to step out the back door in the mornings onto the pebble paving of the back yard.  Like having a quick mini reflexology treatment.

I currently have a routine where I leave my shoes for work and my flip flops for shops in my car. So the only times I really wear any footwear is at work and when I go into businesses.

The shoes are two pairs of Leming Footwear – they look like regular shoes, but they have no heels and no shape in their soles – I have written about them before.  And I can wash them every week! 

My feet are far less tender than they have ever been, but, as I have stated before, it is as if they feel more.  They are never swollen any more and I have far more balance than I have ever had before.

We were lucky that the 2011/2012 winter was not harsh at all – and when it is cold it is not to difficult to wear  socks with my Lemings.  Andrew Rademacher of Leming Footwear just made it known that they plan more model shoes for next year and hopefully these will included better winter wear.

So, here is why I mention shoes every now and again:  For me it is simply impossible to go barefoot 24/7.  I go barefoot for health and pleasure – not to make a point.  The winters here in Minnesota will make it dangerous and uncomfortable to spend too long outside.  And the company I work for does not want our dress to get too informal and I respect that, so when I have to, I do wear my Lemings.

If you really want to know how I feel about the first year of Barefooting, imagine the following scenario:
For thirty or forty years you are required to wear thick chopper mittens all of your waking hours – whatever the work you do.  And you just make do and you cope, because that is what society demands of you.

Then one day you are allowed to take them off and you feel all the wonderful textures your hands have never been allowed to touch.  Can you imagine the sheer joy that would give you?

Well, that is how I feel about walking barefoot wherever I can and as often as I can.

Just think of your shoes of sensory deprivation chambers, because that is exactly what they are.  Together with that, they are dark and damp and warm breeding chambers for bacteria.


Going Barefoot 102

Well, a bit more than two months since I posted “Going Barefoot 101”.

SURVIVING WINTER

Our winter has not been as severe as previous winters – if fact, it has been quite mild.   This last Monday I even left my shoes in my car when we walked to the front door of a local university where me and Gina volunteer our feet to be used by students to practice during their reflexology class.  It was just above freezing, but I would not spend too long a time outside yet, the ground is still uncomfortably cold.

BUT!  I have found the ideal solution:  To keep all the benefits of barefooting and still survive the cold – and also to keep the barfooting benefits, but survive in an anti-barefooting society – I have bought myself a pare of Stem Footwear shoes.   It is definitely the very next best thing to going barefoot.

You can go and have a look at these shoes at the following link:  Stem Footwear

What I like a lot about these shoes are that they can be worn with or without socks, they can be washed, they look like regular shoes, they are super light, they have a very wide toe box so that your feet are never cramped sardine-like into a small space and it feels as if you are barefoot all the time!

Going Barefoot 101

Going Barefoot

“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art” – Leonardo Da Vinci

I.  Growing up

Compared to today’s shod people, I suppose I have always been a bit of a barefooter.

As a kid I ran around  barefoot most of the time – growing up in South Africa you have the weather on your side.
There were even pre-high schools I attended school where we went to school barefoot.   And up to the age of ten, I also played rugby for the school, barefoot.

It was when I was about eight that I had the only foot injury that I can remember.  A bunch of us were playing in the woods  where we lived in Acacia Park near Cape Town.  I remember running down a little footpath and must have stepped on a broken off tree stump hidden under some leaves.  It jabbed into the soft inner part of my foot, just underneath the foot bridge.

Bleeding quite a bit, my friends helped me home and my mom must have fixed it up good, because I  do not remember any more about that incident.

In that same Acasia Park, I did have another barefoot experience that got seared into my mind.  I was going to use the hose pipe to water the garden and as I opened the tap, something moved under my foot.  I looked down to see a snake slithering from underneath my foot.  I did not stay around to find out what type it was or where it went.

II. Why?

So why write about being barefoot?  Why go barefoot?

So let me tell you where it started.  Or rather, when it got serious.

Early in August a customer came into my store and asked for a leather cord or strap to make sandals with.  He was not satisfied with anything I showed him.  From what he described, he wanted to make huaraches, running sandals used for centuries by the Tarahumara Indians of South America.

Frustrated that I could not help him, I researched huaraches in detail on the web that night and the next day it did not take me long to make a pair for myself:
  
Huaraches By Johan

Over a few days of reading, I realized there is more to these sandals than just some alternate form of footwear.   Runners are starting to wear them more and more because they do not offer and orthopedic support and more and more people seem to realize that it is all the support that causes foot, knee and leg problems.

I came across groups like the Primalfoot Alliance, The Society for Barefoot Living, the Barefoot Runners and even one that I joined – The Barefoot Hikers of Minnesota.

Other resources I liked were:

The number one resource is “The Barefoot Book” by Daniel Howell, an absolute must have.

A Harvard study on barefoot running.
The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy – Yes, he is a Minnesotan too!
For Parents and general info

My conclusion was clear: this is something to investigate more and try out seriously!

III. STARTING OFF

Adopting a more serious barefoot lifestyle did not mean too big a change for me.  I mostly walked barefoot at home and in my garden in any case.  Even when we visited good friends, I would be barefoot at their house.   As South Africans newly transplanted in the state of Minnesota, we quickly adopted the local habit of taking your shoes off when you enter someone else’s home, so that your shoes do not carry dirt or snow onto their carpets.  So if I was not barefoot, I would have socks on only.

One of the first times I changed my behaviour, was when I went on a walk around the block with my wife and also at a local park.   I left my shoes behind.  And it felt good, very good.  Invigorating.

I started driving my car barefoot with my flip flops tucked under the seat for when I had to go into a store or somewhere where shoes were required.  There was even one store that I ventured in without shoes on all together – the local health supplement store.    I also started going to the gym barefoot, but when I get there I put my old watershoes on that I used to use for kayaking – no support, just a covering.

My son, Jacques, joined me one Sunday when I went on a barefoot hike with the Barefoot Hikers of Minnesota:

You can read more about this hike at my “Snow” blog.

The one other place that I have deemed it safe to go barefoot, is to church.  Not for Sunday services, but when I go to set up the multi media projection on a Wednesday evening or when I go to join a small group book study.

I read that there are die-hards that go barefoot well into winter to a point where they start calling it snowfooting.  The point was that you can tolerate a fair amount of cold with you bare feet if you keep your body warm.  I found this to be true and had no problem going barefoot outside until the temperatures here in Minnesota dropped to below freezing and the snow came down to make it wet AND cold.

IV.  AND NOW …

First I have to deal with the realities of our weather.  For the next few months we will have very few days, if any, above freezing.  With snow permanently on the ground and lots of sharp ice, outside barefooting is not going to be too much of an option for me.   But I hate loose the benefits of being unshod.  To start with I am going to order a pair of Stem Footwear Shoes.  These offer no support, imitates being barefoot and look like regular sneakers.

I will therefor be wearing my big old clunkers of shoes only when nothing else will do.  And at home I might do socks for warmth when needed.

V.  SOME CONCLUSIONS

I have experienced major benefits from ditching my shoes at every possible opportunity.

My feet are never swollen any more.  My legs and knees never give me the “warm-up first before you go down the stairs” routine.
I feel a lot more healthy and when I stand the whole day at work, my feet do not get tired in the same painful way it used to.

The biggest proof I have that barefooting is beneficial, is the sheer hell I go through when I wear anything but my Crocs or when I am barefoot.

The fact that I can tolerate more cold with my feet and that they are never swollen any more, proves to me that I have much more blood flow to my feet.  This can only be good.  

I reading all I can about barefooting and the people who do it for various reasons, it is interesting to note just how the wearing of unhealthy shoes are completely part of our genes and something modern society finds very hard to question.

In telling some people about barefooting, the reaction is “Oh I would not be able to do that – I have high arched / flat feet / plantar fasciitis / …. “  and any number of other foot and leg problems, all probably caused by the shoes they are wearing!

So my advice (as a novice) is:  do your research and reach as much as you can and then give it a try!   You can only gain more health!

Minnesota, JUST before winter …

I am on a week’s hiatus near Breezy Point, Minnesota.     My first three days made me think that God was speaking to my through my body and just telling me to “Stop!”  I had been boasting that I have not had a cold for at least two years – and Saturday evening the mother of all colds hit me.  

No amount of Wellness Formula helped this time – I was struck down and for three days I simply had to do nothing and rest.   I did play around a bit on my son’s IMac computer that I brought with bacause of it’s total lack of the ball of spaghetti wiring in a normal PC.  And I did read a bit of a book I am currently studying in a group:  “Speaking Christian”.

Today I felt much better!  And midday I decided to go explore Brainerd and the lakes in the area.  It was a perfect day for photography and here are the results.   Just before returning I went on a small hike in the forrest to an old fire tower and the video of that is at the end.

Running Walking against Malaria

On Saturday morning more than a hundred of us got together in a park in Eagan to raise money for a fight against Malaria.

You can read more about the whole program at this LINK

Our local Bishop Sally was there to start off the event and to run herself!

Jacques came up from Mankato for the event.  Here he is between Pastor Judy and Dianne, a very good friend.

Here are a few more photographs:

Here are two small videos I took before I was off with the walkers – I did it barefoot and had a really fun time!

Kayak Plus Hike

After church on Sunday, Jacques and myself took the kayaks and went to explore Thomas Lake in Eagan.

The lake had a lot of Duckweed, but it was easy to paddle through.  For the rest the lake was nothing spectacular.   Maybe in the spring when the water is cleaner ….?

We then grabbed a quick bite to eat so that we could join the Barefoot Hikers of Minnesota on a two hour hike through Lebanon Hills Regional Park.

Along the way we saw many mushrooms, but these tiny ones that seem to grow on the moss, caught my eye:


As I am sitting here, thirty hours later, my calf muscles know that I did a two hour hike without shoes.  But I feel so alive and my feet feel so good, that I am ready to do it again.  It makes me dread that summer is almost over and the cold will creep into Minnesota and curb most of my outdoor barefoot activities!